Apple Watch gets you a rare glimpse inside Apple’s Ultra security program

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'Ultra’ security program
Source: theverge.com

New images and video purporting to show an Apple Watch prototype concealed by a security case that resembles a tiny iPod offer a rare look behind the product-development. The curtains of the notoriously secretive company built by Steve Jobs are Ultra security program. First teased a few months ago by Twitter user Apple Demo, this our first look at the device turned on. And they are running Apple’s own internal development apps on a pre-watchOS 1.0 software build.

The video starts by showing what appears to be the original cardboard packaging, which delivers the prototype hardware to testers. “This product under the Apple Confidential branch and is designated an ‘Ultra’ security program,” reads the label. You need to return the prototype when you recall or when your,” says the labeling before being obscured to hide the origins of the device.

A sticker on the back of the prototype device itself shows it’s a “PVTe” configuration. It presumably means Production Validation Testing (engineering) in line with language seen on previous Apple development hardware.

When can you see the Ultra’ security program?

When the touchscreen device is turned on, we can see that it’s configured to show Apple’s own internal app. You can see the “Lisa tester, and you can identify with an icon of Lisa Simpson but likely a tribute to Jobs’ daughter. And the namesake of Apple’s Lisa computer — one of the first computers to feature a GUI interface. The app lets testers tweak the UI elements of the prototype Watch. The “Springboard zoom” app found inside the Lisa tester is very similar to the original watchOS home screen. It shipped on the first Apple Watch in 2015.

There is no Digital Crown for navigation. Instead, buttons along the right side of the case can used for home and power. The Home button on the front and what appears to be volume up/down buttons on the left are never shown being used and might not be functional; when clicking into settings, the device reports that it hasn’t received FCC approval for sales, adding a further confirmation of its prototype status.

Assuming the prototype is real, and it seems that way. Then it’s a remarkable example of a pre-production Apple device. The device is a good deal more extensive than a Watch and has a home button but no crown. Once turned on, it shows the Watch apps, including Apple’s internal testing software. If so, it’s an exciting glimpse at how Apple builds prototypes and provides a rare look behind the company’s iron curtain-like secrecy.

Should you buy an apple watch?

These days, you need a computer that fits in your pocket. That’s what makes the iPhone so popular. You probably also need a laptop for your lap or your desk. That feels more like an accessory at best and extravagance at worst. Yet Apple Watch proves over the last few years that it can also come to feel indispensable.

Whether you must buy get an Apple Watch or not comes down to how compelling any of the main features are for your lifestyle, either by themselves or when combined together. Those features include not only timekeeping but health and fitness tracking, notifications, and communications.

Reasons to own an apple watch:

For timekeeping:

The Apple Watch is also a convergent device, and that convergence you can see in every aspect, including how it tells time. When you want to see the clock on your Apple Watch, you don’t have to dig into your pocket or reach for your bag. You simply turn your wrist, the screen lights up, and you can view the time and date. It can be just that simple, or, in the grand tradition of timekeeping, you can add “complications.”

The Watch’s faces range from minimal to infographic to utilitarian to motion graphics to astronomy to, well, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Each mug also includes a number of complications, which offer even more data if you want to enable them.

For notifications:

You already get notifications on your iPhone. You can tell when they come in thanks to the beep, buzz, or bubble on your Lock screen. With the Apple Watch, however, those notifications can appear on your wrist. It sends you a subtle tap that doesn’t even light up the display unless you turn the Watch to signal your interest.

Then, you only get a short summary of the information, providing the app name along with a brief bit of context. From there, you get to decide if you want to stop what you’re doing and view more. Facebook messages, turn-by-turn directions, airplane boarding passes, coffee cards, and other app interactions can benefit from being more easily accessible. If that appeals to you, Apple Watch might appeal to you.

Health and fitness:

Recently Apple focuses on Watch marketing around health and fitness, and it’s no mystery as to why. With a GPS and an upgraded built-in heart-rate monitor on the latest Series 4 models, Apple Watch makes for a practical exercise and wellness companion.

You automatically track all the basics, including standing and moving around as well as exercise, steps. Beginning with the Apple Watch Series 4, Apple also includes an ECG, or electrocardiograph in the Watch. The Series 4 also packs hardware for fall detection. With Activity Sharing, you share your achievements with the people closest to you.

For apple pay:

Apple Pay on Apple Watch is magic. Instead of having to fumble for your wallet or even your iPhone, you simply press a button on your Apple Watch. What makes it so great is that it’s always right there on your wrist; it never reveals your real credit card number. In many countries, tap to pay is already ubiquitous. In the U.S., it’s still rolling out.

Hence, there is no proof that the device is genuine when it comes to the ‘Ultra’ security program.